Singer Art Garfunkel has teamed up with two of his former college buddies to put $2 million worth of gold bullion on the table for whoever can find a cure for blindness by 2020.
The prize will be given to the person or persons “most responsible for ending blindness” by Dec. 13, 2020, according to the prize website. That date is 2,978 days from the announcement of the prize and the same number of days it took to get a man on the moon after President Kennedy’s grand challenge.
Garfunkel’s partners in the endeavor are his former Columbia University roommates: Sanford “Sandy” Greenberg, an investor and chairman of the Wilmer Eye Institute’s Board of Governors at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who was blinded by glaucoma as a college junior, and Jerry I. Speyer, a real estate magnate and philanthropist in New York.
It was Greenberg who challenged the Wilmer institute in Baltimore in November 2011 to end blindness by 2020. Last month that challenge was expanded “to move from a painfully slow aggregation of small, hopeful, but scattered advances against separate aspects of blindness.” The eye institute will administer the prize.
Greenberg has a long history of supporting various health science causes by giving both his time and money. He worked on former President Johnson’s science advisory staff, was appointed to the National Science Board by former President Clinton and has served as chairman of the Rural Health Care Corporation, which was created by Congress in 1997 to use telemedicine to meet the needs of underserved populations.
“We’re searching for nothing less than light,” Garfunkel says in a YouTube spot for the End Blindness by 20/20 campaign. “I’m asking you to close your eyes. I know we can find light for the millions who awaken to darkness.”
Watch Garfunkel and Greenberg.
Find out more about the quest.